Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Romans 12:12


The Shirt off Your Back

ShirtStormFull disclosure: I’m a man and I wear shirts.

I know this will automatically disqualify me, in the minds of some, from having an opinion or the right to share it. So be it.

By now you may have heard that there is yet another round of internet outrage this time over feminist reaction to a shirt. It seems some poor scientist made history this past week by wearing the wrong kind of clothing in a TV interview. Why he was being interviewed still remains a mystery to the outraged masses. But then, that hardly matters, as it is not about what you do, but what you wear for which one should be judged.

That is the feminist mantra isn’t it? Judge a person for what they wear. Shame them for their choice of wardrobe. Of course not. Blogger Bhagwad Jal Park summarized it rather nicely when he wrote “Every time a woman asserts her right to dress the way she wants without being blamed for getting attacked, someone will say – “Feminism isn’t about going half naked”. But you know what? It is. The very fact that people are trying to tell women what is “decent” and what isn’t, what is “acceptable” and what isn’t, means that this matters. Because how a woman dresses should be up to her, and up to her alone.

Kind of ironic isn’t it? Substitute the word man for woman and him for her and you will see what I mean.

“O you fool!” I hear some of you shouting at your monitors “Can’t you see that this is different precisely BECAUSE what he chose to wear objectifies women with its comic-book inspired cleavage!” You make a good point and so I must apologize. I am sorry … but I don’t see why this is any different from so much of what feminists do themselves.

And I’m not just talking about crazy fringe feminists like Femen here. (Where is the internet outrage for what they did with crucifixes in St. Peter’s Square in front of men women and children?) There is the whole Slut Walk movement, and the Free the Nipple campaign which are seeking equality through nudity and the right to objectify oneself without giving anyone else the right to do so in return. There is the feminist praise of Kim Kardashian for being empowered enough to break the internet with her nudity. And there is the likes of Kiera Knightly who protests the evils of Photoshop by posing naked … because feminism. The whole spectrum of crazy inconsistencies is nicely summed up in this feminist cartoon (caution, it contains non-objectifying cartoon cleavage!)

It seems to me this is a case of losing your shirt, but wanting to keep it too. You will have to forgive me for not being able to follow the logic of the selectively schizophrenic syphon through which certain things are empowering and certain other things derogatory. Is it only OK for women to objectify themselves because they don’t really mean it? Perhaps I’m missing the irony. Is it bad that a female friend made this monstrosity of men’s wear for him? Is it wrong because a man actually appreciates the female form? Would it be acceptable if he was a gay man wearing the shirt to make a point? Do feminists themselves even know how to answer such questions, or would they just be outraged that I asked them?

Before things shame-spiral out of control let me say that I think men and women should all dress with much more modesty and respect for not only themselves, but all those around them. Your God-given assets are nothing to be embarrassed about, but they are not to be flaunted around just anyone, and certainly not for public viewing. They are for you and your spouse. Period. Clothes and behaviours shouldn’t objectify any group (including the one doing the displaying).

That being said, there is a time and a place for gaudy shirts, and a press conference is not it. But it hardly seems justifiable that a movement so intensely connected with flashing its bits in public should be so outraged when someone publicly appreciates that same female form … in a shirt that is more restrained in its depiction of that female form than many of the lauded protestors themselves. Nor is the irony lost on me, that they are publicly shaming someone for his choice of clothing and completely disregarding his worth and accomplishments as a human being.